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Thu Dec 18 05:59:26 SAST 2014

What inheritance do we bequeath to the new generation?

The Times Editorial | 30 November, 2012 00:39

The Times Editorial: South Africa rarely does particularly well these days when its performance in areas such as governance , productivity, competitiveness and willingness to tackle corruption is measured against that of other countries.

This is despite the fact that our constitution is widely regarded as being among the most progressive in the world, that our mineral riches are vast, that our banking system and stock exchange are considered first rate, that there are pockets of excellence in both the public and private sectors and that our economy is still relatively strong.

In a few short years, we managed to shrug off the yoke of an Aids-denialist president to roll out more anti-retroviral drugs than any other country to combat the spread of HIV, yet our public health system continues to fail too many poor patients.

We have pumped billions of rands into our schools, yet many of our children continue to be woefully unprepared for life in the real world after 13 years of schooling.

Failings such as these help to explain why, in many areas, the country is falling behind in an increasingly competitive world.

The point is underlined by the Economist magazine's recently published "where to-be born" index for 2013.

South Africa places a disappointing 53rd out of 80 countries, scoring 5.89 out of a maximum of 10, when stacked up against its peers by the index, which measures factors such as life expectancy, level of literacy, cost of living, expected inflation rates and the per capita domestic product. Switzerland leads the way with a score of 8.22. It is followed by Australia, which scores an impressive 8.12.

To be fair, South Africa is a developing country with vast socioeconomic challenges, and we do rank second, after Brazil, among our Brics peers.

But we have a mountain to climb before we can become a country in which the future of our children is assured.

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